ThanksgivingPic2Recently #ThanksgivingIn5Words trended on Twitter. Among the plethora of submissions a few I thought were particularly fun and poignant included:

Family isn’t here, that’s nice
Real men kill their turkey
Have the Cowboys lost yet?
Stuck at the kiddie table.
Coerced family reunion and gluttony.
Loud music drowns out relatives.
So stuffed, must lay down
Instead of Turkey, Pardons Hillary (referring to POTUS)
First world problems over dinner
Vegan cousin won’t shut up
One day off for chickens.
Today turkey lives don’t matter.
Three hours till Wallmart riot
Turkey, family, dysfunction, xanax, vodka

And a few with a more reflective mood:
Getting together with good friends.
THANK YOU to our Military!!!
Be thankful every single day

For no reason other than pure curiosity, I enjoy researching my family history from time to time. Just this past week, I was able to finally link one branch of my family tree way back to 1480!  Leonardo da Vinci was painting and the age of European exploration had begun. I also found that one of my ancestors, having crossed the ocean in a sailing vessel, was an early settler in Fairfax, CT in 1635, one of the settlements that later became the colony of Connecticut. With the possible exception of two or three notable figures, my “kin” were not famous for brilliant inventions that changed the world, politicians or even industrialists, but ordinary farmers and laborers working hard to get by. Unless you are American Indian or your family came to the United States more recently, you probably have a similar story to tell.

Discovering these ancestors got me reflecting. In every branch of my family tree, one person was inspired to leave what was familiar, get on a ship, cross the daunting ocean, and start a new life in America with only the hope that life would be different. While I’m sure many left because of religious persecution back in the 1600s and more for economic opportunity in the 1800s, a decision to leave everything they knew for a completely unfamiliar situation had to have been difficult. But they did it, nonetheless.

Don’t gloss over that, but take a minute to reflect. What a scary decision that had to have been with significant and lasting consequences. They arrived in America and had to start over—build or find housing, perhaps learn a new language, establish an occupation, endure brutal winters, survive disease, and more. But it is because of these people, enduring all they did, that we are here today, enjoying the freedoms we do in the USA. I’ve been a CPA, a company founder, and now I’m an author. You’ve probably changed occupations multiple times as well. We can be anything we want to be and do anything (legal :) ) we want to do.

Perhaps because of the recent Paris attacks and being reminded how fragile life is, I am drawn to deeply appreciate the struggles and hardships my ancestors endured. I’m clear they did it to improve their lives and the lives of their children, but I am a beneficiary of their actions. So this Thanksgiving, I stop and thank those who came before—those who made that tough decision to radically change where they lived, not knowing what they would face or if they would endure, but with hope alone to guide them.

May your Thanksgiving be one of reflection and giving thanks for the bounty we enjoy every day and for the choices and endurance it took to be able to do so.

PLEASE NOTE!  If you enjoyed this post, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the Prequel and the award winning Book one in the Andy Smithson epic fantasy series.


Final_300x300L. R. W. Lee is the author of the Andy Smithson coming-of-age, epic fantasy adventure series of which four of the seven total books have been released to date. Book five in the series, Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, will be released January 13, 2016.

She writes to teach her readers principles that can transform their lives – overcoming frustration, impatience, fear and more. She also shows why responsibility, diligence and dignity are the keys to true success in life. L. R. W. Lee lives in scenic Austin, TX with her husband. Her daughter is a senior at UT, Austin and her son serves in the Air Force.

Connect with L. R. W. at: Twitter   Website   Facebook

Want to win a loaded Kindle Fire??

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We love our readers!

The Emblazon authors are celebrating two years at the forefront of great tween literature. To thank our readers for hanging with us, we will be raffling off a brand new Kindle Fire loaded with over 50 of our books. That’s a $300 value and hours of reading entertainment!

The contest runs November 17 through December 1 and is open to anyone who loves tween literature as much as we do.

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Note: Signing up for our annual catalog is required for entry. Current subscribers are also eligible. Winners must reside in the United States or Canada.


It Makes Sense to Use All Your Senses

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Do you have a sixth sense? How about a ninth sense?

If you’re human you have at least twenty-one senses according to recent studies and writers can use every single one of them to bring our characters to life.

For years everyone has been taught, from kindergarten through high school biology, that we have five senses–seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching, and maybe possibly a sixth sense for those into the paranormal. But this is old news. Really old news. The idea of five senses dates back to Aristotle and science has progressed a great deal since his time.

So, if you ask researchers today how many senses humans have, you’ll receive a variety of responses. For years, scientists have been arguing about the actual number. Recently, the most common answer is around twenty-one.

Some researchers believe that our basic five senses can be split into sensory subgroups. Sight, for instance, can be further divided into the senses or perceptions of brightness, color, and depth.

Other scientists argue that senses are unique entities, not subgroups. In this theory, each sense consists of cell types that respond to a distinct phenomenon and then sends a signal to a specific region of the brain. With that definition, we have more than five senses.

The increased number of senses surprises most people, until they become aware that they are using most of them every day just to survive. Writers can utilize these senses to enliven and enhance their writing.

In addition to those already mentioned, here are the remaining senses:

Equilibrioception. This is balance, that sense that keeps us standing upright, coordinated by the vestibular region of inner ear with a little help from our eyes. You can use this sense in describing fast-moving sports, fights, or states of drunkenness.

Interoception. These are multiple sensory receptors found on internal organs. They each have a different function depending on location:

The feeling of being full or satiety is controlled by stretch receptors in the stomach after one eats. We’ll take notice of this sense on Thanksgiving. And likely ignore it.

Then, there are chemoreceptors in our blood vessels monitoring oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, which will quickly inform us that we can’t get enough air or that we are suffocating. That’s where the panicked feeling that you can’t breathe comes from.

There are stretch receptors in our lung tissues that sense how full our lungs are.

Your breathing rate is controlled by the combination of how full your lungs feel and how much oxygen you are receiving. Some people also believe yawning could be a response to these sensory inputs.

Then there are those pesky chemoreceptors out of our control which tell the brain you need to vomit. Now!

Itch. Another annoying but necessary sensory perception is itching, which can occur with or without touching anything. It tells your brain something is irritating your skin, which could be anything from bugs or poison ivy to dry skin. Sometimes just thinking about it makes our skin itch and we want to scratch. This sense draws our attention to a specific location on our skin.

Magnetoreception. Some people have a natural sense of direction and/or navigation and always seem to know which way is north or how to get home. They, like homing pigeons, are employing a sense of magnetoreception. They’re ‘feeling’ the surrounding magnetic fields.

Nociception. This is the sense of pain. In the past, pain was considered a response to touch, but it’s really a specific experience in its own part of the brain. Current researchers suggest that pain is actually three different senses, each relating to different kinds of pain occurring in different locations: pain in our skin (like a sunburn or a splinter) is different from pain in our bones (broken bones), and different from pain felt in an internal organ (for example, angina is heart pain, while gas and bloating are intestinal pains). All pains have a similar function, however, which is to tell your brain you are in trouble.

Proprioception. This is body awareness. If you close your eyes or go blind, you still have an idea where your hand is or if your legs are crossed.

Try going downstairs in the dark or with your eyes shut. You have a sense of where your hand is as you reach for the banister. You know where your foot is and you know when you expect it to touch the next step. (What if that step wasn’t there?)

Without this ‘sense of yourself’ you’d have to watch your hands every second to see if they are going in the correct direction and grabbing the right thing. Or you’d need to stare at your feet to see when your shoe is nearing the floor. Without this sense we couldn’t walk or even pick up a fork without problems.

Body awareness is affected by one’s alcohol consumption and by some illnesses. Police are checking proprioception in some of the field sobriety tests.

Thermoception. This is the sense of temperature, of feeling warm or cold. It comes from temperature sensors in our skin and travels to the brain via our spinal column. It helps tell your brain to do something quick so you don’t freeze in the snow, walk into a fire, or dehydrate in the desert heat.

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Temporal perception or Chronoception. This is the basic sense of time passing, the sense that controls our circadian or daily rhythm.

Time passing may seem different depending on what we do (we tend to think time passes fast if we’re having fun) or at different stages of life (younger people are more accurate in guessing the passage of time, while older people feel time passes faster and faster every year), but we all have a sense of time passing.

Finally, some people believe in ESP, the extrasensory perception, which could now be relegated to being the twenty-second sense instead of the sixth. More studies, of course, are needed to see if this is a true sense. Anyone with ESP care to make a prediction?

In the natural world we notice that many of the animal senses are more powerful than the human versions. In addition, there are a vast range of senses that humans do not have, often quite strange and unbelievable. (A debate exists whether perhaps some unknown senses are hidden in human DNA and we just haven’t developed them, or maybe we aren’t aware of them. Not yet, anyway.) But we can still write about them.

So, if you write about animals or superheroes or alien forces, you should investigate some of these:

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We know dogs have a limited sense of color vision, but they have an extraordinarily keen sense of smell, millions of times more sensitive than humans. Much scarier, bears have an even greater sense of smell than dogs, picking up scents miles and miles away. Some animals can also smell across time (wow!), knowing which scent came before another, like they’re stacked in layers.

Cats can see at night, their large eyes requiring a small fraction of the light required by people. Eagles and some other birds have spectacular distance and night vision.

Bats and snakes can see infrared light, which is beyond red on the electromagnetic spectrum. Infrared is invisible to humans. The main source of infrared is thermal radiation, which allows warm objects to be seen at night by those creatures with infrared vision. Snakes use their tongues to sense heat signatures of prey and can follow its movements.

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Bees and dragonflies and jumping spiders see ultraviolet (UV) light. Seeing ultraviolet light means you can see beyond violet, the shortest wavelength on the visible spectrum. So these creatures see patterns and markings that the human eye cannot see. UV light is used by art historians and curators to see the layers of pigment in paintings and to discover what might be in deeper layers.

Certain kinds of shrimp can see ‘all the above’ plus they can also see polarized light and, to boot, they can move their eyes different directions and see all 360 degrees around them. Next time you eat shrimp, think about that.

Birds, bees and cows can navigate by using their sense of the magnetic fields. Monarch butterflies can navigate across generations, hatching somewhere in the USA and later migrating to trees in Mexico where their ancestors once lived. Imagine taking off and going to the exact ancestral home of a long dead ancester in another country or on another continent without having an address nor a living relative to guide you. That is one unbelievable sense.


Sharks and the platypus sense electric field changes in the waters around them. Most naturalists feel that alligators have the most acute sense of touch of all creatures, feeling the faintest of faint vibrations with sensors on their skin.

Cephalopods, like the octopus, have chemoreceptors in their skin to sense their surroundings, so they can change their own skin color, texture, and patterning to camouflage themselves. Some beetles (that need to lay their eggs in dead trees) can sense a fire many miles away.

Elephants hear low frequency sounds that are infrasonic, which lie far below our hearing range. They can also sense seismic vibrations in the earth with the pads of their feet.


Dogs and mice hear higher frequencies than we do, hence dog whistles and plug-in pest repellents.

Some birds and other animals can sense what nutrient is missing in their diet (without a blood test or a dietician) and then seek out the necessary food. Don’t you wish you could do that?

Amazing stuff! And scientists aren’t done researching our sensory worlds. They’re likely to discover many more extraordinary abilities in nature and then utilize that information to invent things to enhance human existence.

Sensory details add depth to any description, so feel free to explore more than just the original five senses in your characters’ experiences.

Do you have a favorite sense to write about? Can you imagine a sense you wish you had?


Kathryn Sant is a retired obstetrician who has witnessed the births of thousands of future readers. She has published a middle-grade novel, Desert Chase (Scholastic), and under the pseudonym BBH McChiller she is a co-author of the fun, spooky Monster Moon mystery series. Curse at Zala Manor is Book 1, Secret of Haunted Bog is Book 2, and Legend of Monster Island is Book 3. She is currently working on two middle-grade boys’ adventure novels and the next Monster Moon book.

Her interest in adventure, research, and genealogy has led to a love of world travel, exotic adventures, and museums of all kinds. But she also enjoys quiet evenings reading with her dogs at her side.

(Clock photo by dreamtime. Other photos by Kathryn Sant.)






New Release: A Snarky Princess Story Collection

I’ve talked before about humor and tweens, and I’ve discovered that spoofing well-know stories is a big hit for many. To that end, I have just compiled a 4-in-1 volume of short fairy tale spin-offs designed to tickle the funny bone that is no longer clad in Disney Princess jammies.

Snarky Princess CollectionThe four stories are as follows:

Princess Pennilopintha and the Magic Mouse-Made Momphibrak

This one isn’t a direct parody of a known fairy tale, but it has all the exaggerated elements. It pokes fun at the genre by giving us a princess in a tower who really hopes she doesn’t have to get married to a valiant warrior-knight. She lucks out when her prince turns out to be a pastry chef.

Saccharine White and the 7 Dwarfs of SAGA

Obviously this is making fun of Snow White. Unlike the original, Saccharine is only artificially sweet–mostly because she’s tired of dealing with the paparazzi group, SAGA (Slander And Gossip Association). Fortunately, what she lacks in sugary demeanor, she makes up for with a quick mind (and quick feet).


The Quest for a Wide-Awake Princess

This one features two famous sleepy maidens–Sleeping Beauty and the Princess and the Pea. It follows Prince Jack on a quest for a princess who can stay awake long enough for that first kiss. When true love strikes, though, it’s full of comic energy.


Stormy Jane and the Damsel in Distress

Ever notice how the princes and knights always have to rescue a damsel in distress? Well, what if the rescuing is done by a fair maiden? And what if the “damsel in distress” is a 90-foot monster?


Slathered in snarky silliness, they’re sure to get tween eyes rolling (in a good way).  Available individually or in an omnibus collection on Amazon.

A shot B&WLia London has been on a writing frenzy this year, releasing seven new titles in 2015 alone. Much of that his humor or fantasy geared to tweens and teens. Stop by her website for more information.

How to Write Action Scenes that Pack a Punch

I love to write action scenes in all my books. Martial arts, spaceship battles, monsters–you name it, if it goes SMASH and CRASH, I love it and I want to write about it.

I’ve developed a little acronym to help me remember how to get the most out of my action scenes. Here’s a simple recap of the “POW” philosophy to help you write your own awesome action.



Remember that everything is connected. Think “The hip bone’s connected to the back bone …” Get out of your chair and pay attention to your body as you throw a punch. If you try it without any preparation, you won’t be very successful. But if you stand with your feet apart, bend your knees a little, focus on drawing strength all the way up from your toes, and PUNCH, you’ll find you can feel it in every part of you–and that your hit will do a lot more damage. Be aware of all those connections when you write about fighting.


Know the purpose of your scene. Is it simply something the character has to get through to get to the other side? Or is its purpose to show the reader something important about the character?

A plot-driven action scene is usually fast-paced and action-based.

A character-driven action scene is character-based and may have a lot more internal thought and character narration, which slows the action a bit.


Remember, “There’s nothing passive about action scenes”.

Choose powerful, active verbs, and always look for ways to strengthen sentences by eliminating passive voice where possible.

I’m certain that if you practice some POW when you write your action, it’ll totally pack a punch and your readers will FEEL it. Happy writing!


Alex 1 (2)Alex Banks likes to say she holds a black belt in awesome since the only kind of kicking-butt she does is on paper. She lives in Utah with her kickin’ husband, two sparring sons, one ninja cat, one samurai dog and four zen turtles.

Alex writes Young Adult and New Adult fiction (suitable for readers over fourteen) under the name Ali Cross.
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